Eagles Notebook

Posted: June 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 40 Comments »

Lots of stuff to cover today.  Let’s start with WR Damaris Johnson.  He’s really impressing the people watching the OTAs.  Johnson is quick and fast.  He’s fluid and athletic.  He’s able to catch the ball and pull away from defenders.  Very good start.

Before we get too excited, let’s remember a couple of things.  The non-contact situations like this are where finesse, athletic players like Johnson should shine.  This is built for him to stand out.  It is good that he’s doing that, but it still doesn’t tell us much.

The other thing to keep in mind is that no one really questioned Johnson’s football ability.  He has character issues.  Is Johnson doing what he’s supposed to off the field?  Is he on time?  Is he paying attention in the classroom meetings?  Is he doing the little things it takes to make it in the NFL?  I don’t know one way or the other, but these are the kinds of things that Johnson must do to succeed.

I hope he is being a professional on and off the field.  The Eagles could use a WR with his skills and ability. I’ll be pulling for him to make it.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama offered up some OTA notes yesterday.  Selflessly, he shared the story of his harrowing confrontation with a tick.  Jimmy looked death right in the face and said “Not until after dinner.”  It would not surprise me to learn that his parents were Mother Teresa and Chuck Norris.

* * * * *

I initially skipped over the fact that Jason Babin is saying he wants to take part in the running of the bulls in Spain this summer.  I figured everyone else would cover it.  Now Mike Vick is saying he’ll ask Babin not to go.  Other players say Babin is a crazy guy and they aren’t all that surprised that he wants to do it.

I have mixed feelings.  I hate the risk, but at the same time I appreciate that part of what drives Babin to be a good player is being an odd, edgy guy.  Also, Eagles players get hurt jumping over fences.  Or falling in their kitchen.  Babin should be perfectly safe running from a deadly bull.

* * * * *

Les Bowen has a good story up on Trent Edwards.  Yesterday Edwards did not throw a pass in the group drills in practice.  I was highly surprised when I read this on Twitter yesterday, but the story explains things.

I didn’t know it, but the Eagles are re-working Edwards mechanics.  They are changing his footwork in a major way.  This has affected his throwing and led to a lot of his struggles.  Clearly this doesn’t help Edwards chances of making the team at all, but it does explain why his throwing has been so erratic.

You wonder if Trent had any offers from other teams.  Did he come here to really try to change as a QB to save his career or did he come here because the Eagles were the only ones interested and beggars can’t be choosers?

* * * * *

Rich Hoffman has a good piece up with lots of quality Jim Washburn quotes.  I would love to drink a couple of beers with Wash and listen to his stories.

* * * * *

Domo wrote about LeSean McCoy.  There’s some good stuff from Duce Staley on what Shady must do to improve.

* * * * *

SUMMER READING

I want to talk to you about a pair of great books. First up is a book by one of our own, an Eagles fan. No Tom McAllister didn’t write about the time that Reno Mahe stalked him in the grocery store (“I’m telling you, that’s Tom McAllister…the author”).

This is a book by Fred Gratzon called Instant Athlete. It is a book about how to improve at athletics, but without being about specific athletic skills. The book teaches you some simple things to do (I hesitate to call them tricks because that has a negative connotation). These simple tips can make a huge difference.

The book centers on how they can help you in tennis, golf, and baseball, but I think they could apply to other sports as well. I have not had a chance to try them out. I haven’t played tennis or golf in the past 3 or 4 years. And to be brutally honest, I suck at both. I was such a bad golfer that a fairway once sued me for cruel and unusual punishment. Like most golf stories, that is one million percent true.

After reading the book, I really want to go play golf and tennis to try out the tips. If an awful athlete like me can genuinely improve, there is hope for the rest of the world.

I can’t really give the secret away. You need to buy and read the book to get the information. I can tell you that it is simple. I can also tell you that it isn’t something you’ve likely thought of yourself or heard from others. That’s the genius of it. So obvious, yet so hidden.

Go to the site for Instant Athlete and listen to Fred tell you more about the book.  I can guarantee you will be fascinated by what he has to say.

* * * * *

The other book is a football book. I’ve talked a few times about a site called Smart Football. Well, Chris Brown took some of his posts and put them together as a book and released The Essential Smart Football.

This is a great football book. Chris knows the game very well and is a good writer. Be warned that it is more about college than the NFL, but as we have seen in recent years, the college game is starting to seep into the pro game more and more. The Panthers ran the read option last year. The Wildcat has been around for a few years. The spread offense is now part of the league. The times they are a changin’.

Chris loves the spread offense, specifically what he calls the AirRaid (Hal Mumme, Mike Leach). I am not so fond of that style of play, but Chris has gotten me to be more accepting of it. That alone should tell you how good a book this is.

If you want a short, simple book to help you understand the game of football better, I highly recommend The Essential Smart Football.  I bought it the day it came out and have already read it.  Great stuff.

* * * * *

For those of you who like draft reviews, I’ve been posting them over at ScoutsNotebook.  I have only done 2 so far.  I like to let mini-camps get going so I can read about how players are going to be used.  I remember writing a review in the past and talking about how some OL had zero chance at OT in the NFL.  Of course, he goes to mini-camp and is the backup RT.  Ugh.  Let teams give you an idea of what they’re going to do so you can sound smart when writing about them.


  • HoneyGratz

    Thanks, Tommy, for giving my new book, Instant Athlete, a boost. With your kind permission, I’d like to throw in my two cents.

    Sports instruction since the beginning of time has focused almost exclusively on the mechanics of a motion—the golf swing, the tennis stroke, the pitching motion, etc. Do this with your wrists; do that with your hips, follow through like this, and, of course, keep your head down. Tennis instructors make their living telling you two things over and over—keep your eye on the ball and get your racquet back.

    Unfortunately, what has been completely ignored is the period “between” motions. This period of “non-motion” (where a motion is initiated) is where success or failure is structured. When you clutter this period of non-motion with thoughts of swing mechanics or desires for obvious goals (such as wanting to hit the ball, or throw a strike, or get the ball in the hole, or over the net, or in the basket, etc.), you gum up the works big time. It is truly amazing how much damage these types of seemingly innocent desires do to an athletic performance and how much “physical” energy they actually waste.

    My book teaches a method (discovered and developed by my good friend Steven Yellin, a Penn grad) where an athlete can easily “sidestep” these types of sabotaging thoughts and desires even in the white heat of competition. When this happens, the body instantly starts performing with greater fluidity, timing, power, accuracy, and efficiency.

    Steven has just started to teach top professionals in all sports. For example, the White Sox pitcher who recently threw a perfect game was taught two years ago and it salvaged his baseball career.

    Here’s what Hall of Famer George Brett said after he learned the approach for his golf game:
    “It was an extraordinary experience. I am a 5 handicap golfer and I have a fairly consistent swing. But it took my game to another level. I was hitting the ball farther with less effort and making more solid contact. Even some shots I normally had problems with were corrected and became more consistent.

    “I have seen some of the professional baseball players that he has worked with and their swings looked like how I felt on the range. They were generating tremendous bat head speed with minimal effort and the ball was jumping off the bat. These guys have discovered something in sports that is going to have a huge impact wherever it is taught.”

    For the record, I’ve been literally begging the Phillies to take a look at my book before this approach becomes common knowledge. I want to give them an additional competitive edge. So far I’ve only encountered deaf ears. Alas . . .

    Thanks again, Tommy, for the plug. I adore your blog(s). And thanks to all you commenters. I look forward to reading your contributions every day. And that includes you, Morton . . . especially you.

    • TommyLawlor

      My pleasure.

      Good luck with the Phillies.

  • Septhinox

    Do you see Damarius Johnson being what they though Chad Hall would be?

    • TommyLawlor

      That’s the hope. Hall just doesn’t have the speed. Seems like Johnson does.

    • Johnson replacing Hall (along with a TC full of no injuries) would make my preseason.

      • It’s funny, like probably everyone else I’m not thrilled when they feed Chad the ball, but I can’t help but think what might have been.

        He seems to do nothing but work hard to improve, and while he never helps the team immensely, he doesn’t do anything to harm them either. If he was just more athletic, I think he could have been a fan favorite due to his back story and work ethic.

        • A_T_G

          Yep, Chad is definitely one of those guys you wish would have a little more. It is sad to see him being replaced, even as we know it needs to be done.

  • ian_no_2

    As long as you get advice on how to proceed at the Running of the Bulls and don’t drink all night beforehand, the risk of being gored is lower than the risk of playing NFL football. Babin seems to be of French and/or Arcadian stock, many of whom are drawn to Spanish culture and machismo.

    • TommyLawlor

      Are you speaking from experience, Ian? If so, would make for some interesting stories.

      I’ve not read or watched all that much on the Running of the Bulls. And I am pretty sure that I do not have the courage/craziness to participate myself. I would gladly go to Spain and have a few drinks to support those that do run.

      • ian_no_2

        I haven’t been to Pamplona or rode/fought a bull but I once had to get to a minibus at 430 am in a town square in pitch dark due to a blackout, knowing there were three bulls on the square where I was walking and not knowing where they were. Just from what I read, the percentages of injury are lower than the NFL and being a professional athlete with what one Running of the Bulls hack once called “grace under pressure” helps.

        • TommyLawlor

          Now that would be a pressure filled walk. Move quickly, but quietly.

        • I’m not really concerned with Babin being gored, but there are plenty of other risks involved when dealing with a huge crowd of drunken idiots running through narrow cobblestone streets. The crowd is the real danger in this case.

          I think that, say, breaking the single-season sack record will fill out his “man-card” a lot better than doing something that thousands of dumbasses have already done. Stuff like this is why you have the “non-football injury” clause in the CBA. Let’s hope he comes to his senses on this. Right now I can’t help but feel that Babin is being a selfish douche about this.

          • iskar36

            To me, regardless of the Alaska trip and the Running of the Bulls, Babin repeating last years performance would be a very difficult task. That’s not meant to be a knock on Babin, but 18 sacks is a very high sack total. He is a guy that has had very limited success until the last two seasons. The last 2 seasons he has averaged 15.25 sacks a year. Prior to that he was averaging a little less than 3. Because of all of that, I think fans really want to see him come in with a chip on his shoulder and with the attitude that he still has something to prove. While ultimately, I doubt the Alaska trip or the Running of the Bulls has any significant affect on Babin (unless of course he gets injured, which I think is unlikely but a possibility), those things are going to quickly lead to fans turning on Babin if he struggles at all, particularly because he made both trips public knowledge, rather than keep his vacation plans to himself.

          • ian_no_2

            Running and pivoting on cobblestones may cause a problem.

  • iskar36

    When I saw the quote that Babin was going to be doing the Running of the Bulls, I was definitely disappointed. To me, it is a stupid risk that we certainly can do without, and I’d obviously prefer a key player in our defense to be focusing on football rather than putting a check mark on his “man card” as he described it. Having said that, I looked it up and that alleviated some of my concerns. I think it is still an unnecessary risk, but I get the sense that it’s not nearly as dangerous as people want to make it out to be. The vast majority of “injuries” are cuts and scraps from falling over. The gates that guide the run are all setup so that the runners can get through them easily but the bulls can not in case a bull is actually getting dangerously close. There are obvious risks of course, mostly involving drunk runners falling and then causing someone else to fall, but it sounds like if you know what you are doing and don’t get too drunk before the run, most likely you shouldn’t have any problems. Like I said thought, I would much prefer Babin not do it either way, but hopefully it’s not a problem.

    • NoDecaf

      Win a SB first Jason. We’ll buy you your own herd to chase you around the neighborhood all off season.

  • Kevin_aka_RC

    You can’t say Babin can’t do that like any employer can’t tell their staff what to do in their time off. If Babin gets hurt, he loses money. He’s not dumb.

    Freedom, rights, liberty: all those words Americans like telling the world they believe in.

    • TommyLawlor

      Yeah, mixed feelings. There is specific language in some contracts that forbids certain activities (sky diving, riding motorcycles, etc.), but something like this is different. Still, you wonder how wise it is to even consider. Why not just wait 5 years?

      The flip side is that Babin is who Babin is because he does different things. If you limit what he does, will that affect his play?

    • A_T_G

      I’m a public school teacher. There are a lot of things that I can’t do on my own time without losing my job.

      • A_T_G

        For the record, I’m not saying the team should stop him, just that it is a selfish decision to make when other guys in the locker room are doing everything they can to be healthy.

      • TommyLawlor

        Is hitting Cowboys fans with a shovel on that list?

        • A_T_G

          I should have been more clear. I’m a PA public school teacher.

          So, no.

        • That sounds like a gray area to me.

    • iskar36

      Actually, I think if the team chose to, they would be contractually allowed to stop him. Players are not contractually allowed to do things that would pose a significant risk to their health outside of football. Often times, teams turn the other way in most cases, and there is an argument to be made of what truly qualifies as significant risk (is it something based on perception, based on percentage of people involved in activity that get injured, etc), but if the Eagles truly didn’t want Babin to participate, they would likely have a right to do so.

      • Kevin_aka_RC

        Employers shouldn’t be mandating what their staff can and can’t do: regardless of contract language. Even then, the contracts don’t state that athletes “can’t” go skiing, ride motorcycles, etc: it says that if they get hurt they can cut/fire them without compensation. It puts ALL the risk on the employee as a deterrent.

        I’m going to be an optimist: the bulls are going to teach Babin run defense.

  • TommyLawlor

    Uh oh. The NFL has a copy of the ledger the Saints used to keep track of bounty money.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nfl–sources–new-orleans-saints-kept-a–ledger–detailing-weekly-earnings-in-bounty-scandal.html

    • Yeah, the whole Saints organization are a bunch of liars, they all knew about it. At this point I’ll bet it will come down to a lawyer battle, i.e. Vilma will be listed in bounty payouts (meaning he knows damn well why he was suspended) but they’ll try and say that his due process was violated or something.

      • The lawyers forget that the NFL is not under normal law when it comes to suspension. The CBA states that Godell can do what every he fucking wants (basicly and Vilma etc can whine all they want)

  • Dave Spadaro ‏@davespadaro
    RT @R1balla: really want McNutt and cooper to make it. Gives our wr group size …I think only one makes it. Need some quickness there
    =============
    Hey Tommy, I saw this comment of Dave at twister and was thinking: probably McNutt is not going to be cut because he was draft this year. DO u think that the team is releasing Riley Cooper ?

    • TommyLawlor

      McNutt was a 6th round pick. He’s guaranteed nothing.

      Eagles will likely keep 6 WRs. Could be both big guys make it. Could be just one and then a small guy (Johnson, Hall, RonJon, etc.). All depends on who plays well. If both big guys light it up, both have a good chance to stay.

      McNutt could be PS material if he is up and down this summer.

      • iskar36

        Am I missing someone. If the Eagles do in fact keep 6 WRs, unless he losses out to two of Damarius Johnson, Hall, and whoever else (not including Cooper), how would McNutt not make the team? Maclin, Jackson, and Avant are locks. Then it is Cooper, and the remaining two spots.

        I saw the same comment Spadaro made and was completely confused by it.

      • Flyin

        Could Damaris hold a spot as a RS specialist if they keep the big guys?

      • mheil

        6th WR will be competing with 3rd TE, maybe FB, for 1 or 2 roster spots; as far as WR, the top 3 are definate, Cooper is probable, after that to be determined, at least the way I see it

  • Cliff

    You can take the bull out of Pamplona, but you can’t take the Pamplona out of the bull.

    • A_T_G

      Actually, I think I saw something about that on the Discovery channel. They wear rubber gloves that go up to their shoulders and use pliars and a thick rubber band.

      • TommyLawlor

        This…is…so…disturbing.

  • Flyin

    You guys need to understand… Babin is going through his transformation. He is absorbing every once of proven nastiness he can absorb. Don’t quell his thirst. He is a beast only Washburn could love more than you.

    • Flyin

      My worry, he will be a bull, and lawsuits will insue.

  • goeagles55

    I just started reading The Essential Smart Football since it’s available on Kindle now. It’s a good book and I’ve learned a decent amount about different schemes. By the way, if you have Amazon Prime, you can “borrow” it for free.(And I think he still gets paid)

  • T_S_O_P

    From Wikipedia

    Every year, between 200 and 300 people are injured during the run although most injuries are contusions due to falls and are not serious. Since record-keeping began in 1924, 15 people have been killed in Pamplona.

    Last fatality was in ’09. Last and only American fatality in ’95.